Friday, October 15, 2010

Malignant Mesothelioma

Malignant mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer is a disease in which cancer (malignant) cells are found in the bag along the chest (chest) or abdomen (peritoneum). Most people with malignant mesothelioma have worked on jobs where they breathed asbestos.

A doctor should be seen if a person has difficulty breathing, chest pain, pain or swelling in the abdomen. If there are symptoms, the doctor may order an x-ray of the chest or abdomen.

The doctor may look inside the chest cavity with a special instrument called a thoracoscope. A cut is made through the chest wall and the thoracoscope will be put into the chest between two ribs. This test, called thoracoscopy, is usually done in the hospital. Before the test, patients receive a local anesthetic (a drug that causes loss of sensation for a short period of time.) A little pressure can be felt, but usually no pain.

The doctor may look inside the abdomen (laparoscopy) with a special tool called laparoscopy. Laparoscopy is placed in an opening in the abdomen. This test is usually done in the hospital. Before the end of the test, a local anesthetic.

If the tissue is not normal is found, the doctor will cut a small piece, and is considered under a microscope to see if cancer cells. This is called a biopsy. Biopsies are usually done during the thoracoscopy or peritoneoscopy.

The chance of recovery (prognosis) depends on the size of treatment when the tumor is, how far the cancer has spread, like cancer cells look under a microscope, like the response to cancer treatment and patient age.

Surgery is a common treatment of mesothelioma. The doctor may remove part of the lining of the chest or abdomen and some tissue around it. Depending on how far the cancer has spread, a lung also may be removed in an operation called a pneumonectomy. Sometimes part of the diaphragm, the muscle below the lungs that helps with breathing, is also removed.

Radiation therapy uses high energy x-rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. The radiation may come from a machine outside the body (external radiation) or from putting materials that produce radiation (radioisotopes) through thin plastic tubes in the area where the cancer cells (radiotherapy internal).

If fluid has accumulated in the chest or abdomen, the doctor may drain the fluid from the body by putting a needle into the chest or abdomen and using gentle suction to remove the liquid. If the fluid is removed from the chest, this is called thoracentesis. If the fluid is removed from the abdomen is called paracentesis. The doctor may also put drugs through a tube into the chest to prevent more fluid from accumulating.

Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be taken orally, or may be placed on the body through a needle into the vein or muscle. Chemotherapy is a systemic treatment because the drug enters the bloodstream, travels through the body and can kill cancer cells throughout the body. In mesothelioma, chemotherapy may be put directly into the chest (intrapleural chemotherapy).

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